Julia Chain, pictured, the new chairwoman of the UK's fertility regulator, Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority is seeking some fundamental changes in the 1990 laws that govern the fertility sector
IVF clinics that sell useless 'add-ons' costing couples to waste thousands of pounds are now to face fines in a shake up of old and outdated fertility treatment laws.
As part of the biggest fertility laws shake-up in 30 years, Julia Chain, the new chairwoman of the UK's fertility regulator, Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA), is seeking some fundamental changes.
Ms Chain wants to secure powers for the regulator to be able to fine clinics misleading patients and also make it easier for same-sex couples, transgender couples, or single people to access fertility treatment.
The 1990 laws that govern the fertility sector means that HFEA can only give clinics a 'slap on the wrist', but Ms Chain, who took over in April, says they need 'end-to-end powers' to stop some of the worst offenders.
These add-on procedures can cost hundreds or even thousands of pounds each.
They include 'assisted hatching' which sees an egg's outer layer pierced to 'help the embryo emerge', and it costs in the region of £550.
Like most of these add-ons, it has not been shown to increase success rates.
'Pre-implantation genetic testing' is supposed to detect abnormal embryos and has a price tag of up to £3,000, but once again has no evidence of reducing the chance of a miscarriage.
In an interview with the Sunday Times, Ms Chain said she will announce her plans for securing more powers for the regulator at the Progress Educational Trust conference on Wednesday.
She explained that patients coming to IVF clinics are often vulnerable and 'often desperate' and will do anything to improve their chances of starting a family, including paying thousands for unproven treatments that could up their chances by as little as 1%.
The 1990 laws that govern the fertility sector means that HFEA can only give clinics a 'slap on the wrist' (file photo)
She said: 'What we are looking to do is regulate the way clinics provide information, to make sure that vulnerable patients are not taken advantage of.
'We want enforcement powers that allow us to have appropriate powers like economic sanctions and